Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Hygiene Advice

Posted by Neal on April 9, 2005

From a newspaper clip that’s been sitting on my desk since December:

“Teach your children to cough into your arm sleeves, not your hand,” [Dr. Roger Wilt] said.
(“Colds: the unwanted gift from others at Christmas.” Suzanne Hoholik, The Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 25 or 26, 2004, C1.)

That’s all well and good, but what about when they’re at school? You can’t always be there for them to cough into your arm sleeves.

3 Responses to “Hygiene Advice”

  1. Karen said

    My fav was a cartoon with a “gift shirt” which came with “handkerchief’s already built in as cuffs on the sleeves.” (Presumably to ‘save time’ hunting for that elusive “Kleenex” box of tissues.) LOL

  2. I wonder if that wording was an attempt to avoid a gendered pronoun or singular ‘they’ by switching to the second person.

  3. Grig said

    I was taught to use “one” as in:

    Teach your children to cough into one’s arm sleeves, not one’s hand

    That’s awkward when I use the same text; it’s better paired with ‘their’:

    One should tech their children to cough into their own sleeves, rather than the hand

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